Sam’s big day

SAM Tomkins will make rugby history this weekend when he steps out for the Barbarians against the Wallabies at Twickenham.

The Warriors star becomes the first man to ever play against the Australian rugby league side and rugby union side on successive weekends, as well as being the first contracted RL player to be selected for the Barbarians.

The likes of Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri, Wille Mason and Mat Rogers have all turned out for the Baa-Baas, although they had already switched codes.

“For Sam, Wigan and rugby league to be recognised in this way by the other rugby code is indicative of the talent which he has,” acknowledged Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan.

“And the growing recognition of the attractiveness and skill demonstrated consistently by rugby league each week.

“It also shows the growing profile and respect shown to rugby league and Wigan.

“The game itself is a great opportunity for Sam to play with and against some of the biggest international names in union, and will show rugby union fans what a tremendous talent he is.

“The Wigan club was quick to give permission for Sam to play, a decision which fits well with previous Wigan-creative initiatives in the Middlesex Sevens, the dual-code games against Bath and the recent Partnership announced with Saracens.”

Tomkins linked up with the Barbarians squad today ahead of Saturday’s game.

After a short break, he’ll then rejoin his Warriors team-mates in Florida next month to prepare for next year.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood was quick to add his backing. He said: “Sam’s selection underlines that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Meanwhile, Warriors chief Lenagan has confirmed the search is already underway to find a replacement for Thomas Leuluai, who will return home at the end of 2012 after signing for the New Zealand Warriors.

“Over the course of the next 12 months we will be seeking a suitable replacement whilst hoping that one of our exceptionally-talented young players from within the ranks are able to step up and fill the gap for 2013 and beyond,” said Lenagan.